Chicken Egg Binding. Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention

When a hen has an egg stuck inside her oviduct, she is referred to as being egg-bound. Egg-binding can be a life-threatening condition that must be addressed quickly, preferably by a seasoned, chicken veterinarian. If the egg is not passed within 24-48 hours, the hen is likely to perish. Absent access to a vet, backyard chicken-keepers may have to take matters into their own hands in order to save the hen's life.

When a hen has an egg stuck inside her oviduct, she is referred to as being egg bound. Egg binding is a life-threatening condition that must be addressed quickly, preferably by a experienced poultry veterinarian. If the egg is not passed within 24-48 hours, the hen is likely to perish. Absent access to a vet, backyard chicken-keepers may have to take matters into their own hands in order to save the hen’s life.

CAUSES OF EGG BINDING

Excessively large or misshapen egg

An overview of a hen’s reproductive system is important in order to know where an egg may be stuck.*

An overview of a hen's reproductive system is important in order to know where an egg may be stuck.
A hen’s uterus (aka: shell gland)  is the muscle responsible for squeezing the egg out of the vent. Since muscles require calcium to contract properly, if a hen has a calcium deficiency, the egg can get stuck in the uterus.
An overview of a hen's reproductive system is important in order to know where an egg may be stuck.
POSSIBLE SYMPTOMS OF EGG BINDING
  • Loss of appetite
  • Disinterest in drinking
  • Decreased activity
  • Shaky wings
  • Walking like a penguin
  • Abdominal straining
  • Frequent, uncharacteristic sitting
  • Passing wet droppings or none at all (egg interferes with normal defecation)
  • Droopy/depressed/pale comb and wattles
  • Presence of an egg in the oviduct upon exam
Frequent, uncharacteristic sitting

DANGERS OF EGG BINDING

PREVENTION
Avoid treats in the summer heat when feed intake is reduced
TREATMENT FOR EGG BINDING
Calcium (injection, liquid or via vitamins & electrolyte solution)
Warm bath
Apply KY jelly
Massage
To assess whether a hen is egg-bound at home, gently feel on either side of her vent with one hand (think: squeezing the cheeks of a cute kid). If an egg is felt, first give the hen liquid calcium. Absent liquid calcium, offer vitamins and electrolytes in the water. Even if she’s not interested in drinking, carefully try to get some water into her with a dropper or syringe. If she is too weak to drink, don’t attempt it. The calcium may be enough to get her to pass the egg on her own within a half hour or so.

Put the hen in a tub of warm water for 15-20 minutes, which will hydrate her vent and relax her, making it easier to pass the egg.
Put the hen in a tub of warm water for 15-20 minutes, which will hydrate her vent and relax her, making it easier to pass the egg.

Applying KY jelly to the vent can also help hydrate the cloaca to allow for ease of passage when the egg gets to that point (do not use olive oil, which can become rancid). 
**DO NOT massage the vent, abdomen or oviduct!**
At this point, put her in a crate in a darkened, quiet room. If a truly egg-bound hen does not pass the egg within an hour of these measures, the egg may need to be manually removed, which can be dangerous but is possible but proceed at your own risk.
At this point, put her in a crate in a darkened, quiet room. If a truly egg-bound hen does not pass the egg within an hour of these measures, the egg may need to be manually removed, which can be dangerous but is possible but proceed at your own risk.

If she still hasn’t expelled the egg, and you don’t think she’s going to on her own, then you can move to manual manipulation. This only applies if she is still bright and not in shock. Palpate the abdomen to find the location of the egg and gently manipulate it in an effort to move it along. GENTLE is the key word here. If manual manipulation fails and you can see the tip of the egg, another option is aspiration, implosion, and manual removal.

“First, get someone to help you hold the bird very securely while you work (preferably not upside dwn). Then, using a syringe and a large needle (18ga.), draw the contents of the egg into the syringe. After aspiration of the contents, gently collapse the egg all around. You want to do this gently in order to keep the inner membrane of the egg in tact, which will keep the eggshell fragments together.

Last, gently remove the egg. (Copious amounts of lubrication would be good here.) Go slow and try to keep the shell together (although broken). If all fragments do not come out, they should pass, along with remaining egg content, within the next several days.”

Stella was put to sleep due to severe egg-binding. She did not exhibit the typical symptoms outlined above, the only clues that she had a problem at all were a change in droppings, activity level and a hard abdomen.
Stella was put to sleep due to severe egg-binding. She did not exhibit the typical symptoms outlined above, the only clues that she had a problem at all were a change in droppings, activity level and a hard abdomen. 
Additional reading and resources:
http://www.avianweb.com/Prolapse.htm

*Anatomical illustrations and photo reproduced for educational purposes, courtesy of Jacquie Jacob, Tony Pescatore and Austin Cantor, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. Copyright 2011. Educational programs of Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, M. Scott Smith, Director, Land Grant Programs, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Lexington,and Kentucky State University, Frankfort. Copyright 2011 for materials developed by University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension. This publication may be reproduced in portions or its entirety for educational and nonprofit purposes only. Permitted users shall give credit to the author(s) and include this copyright notice. Publications are also available on the World Wide Web at www.ca.uky.edu. Issued 02-2011

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Comments

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Amanda
Guest

I have 8 chickens since last June today while cleaning the coop as I do daily I seen blood on their shavings. I immediately started to inspect my girls and could find no blood on any feathers or anywhere else. None are acting sickly all are eating I don’t believe this is normal can someone help me out ? please

Ana
Guest

I'm sick of this voice texting anyways I need some advice for my sick chicken. Do not know what to do

Ana
Guest

I don't know if my chicken is even a bound she's been looks like contracting in sick for almost 2 weeks now. I do not know what to do. I live in a small town and there are no chicken that Marians around

bobfairlane
Guest

Unless the chicken looked sick, I would, but if the other chickens ever get the idea you killed one, or cleaned one, they may go into shock or panic. I got some chickens from someone who dispatched the rooster. They would not go into their old coop ever, and they acted like siamese twins for weeks after arriving here.

Crystal
Guest

I have a hen that is acting like she is, but I'm not real sure if I am feeling an egg or not. Her under belly is so rock hard that she fights with you when you touch her. I have tried the warm bath, the KY and massaging methods. Right now I have her in a cage inside, with towels on it to make it look dark inside. And so my cat will leave her alone.

TheChickenChick
Guest

It sounds like a shell-free egg broke inside her. Give her a lukewarm bath and let her relax- it should pass.

lindsey
Guest

We have chickens, all are part of the family, but this evening i noticed one of my chickens, named Flo, had some yellow stuff hanging from her butt, it looked like yoke. As i looked closer, some rubber like stuff was hanging out of her. She doesnt act like shes in pain at all, she eats, drinks, scratches around. We washed her butt to get all that yellow stuff away. Anyone know about this condidtion?

Tracy Baker Russell
Guest

So glad to know this about egg binding. I'm waiting on 8 of my girls to start laying. Hopefully any day now. Oh, I really liked an article I read about "Is your hen a layer or liar". It was really informative.

Eleanor Sferle
Guest

I have a chicken that has not layed a egg , bought 3 the other two are laying , she seems to be fine , she goes in the nest and nest downs but no eggs any ideas

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